PM Golob visiting Brussels to discuss coming EU summit (background)

Ljubljana/Brussels – Prime Minister Robert Golob will start his two-day visit to Brussels on Thursday to meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel. The PM’s first visit abroad after assuming office will be mainly aimed at preparations for next week’s EU summit that will focus on Ukraine.

On Thursday, Golob is expected to meet von der Leyen as well as Slovenia’s EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič. His meeting with Michel is scheduled for Friday.

The talks are expected to focus on preparations for a regular EU summit to be held in Brussels between 23 and 24 June, which will be the first for the new Slovenian prime minister.

The EU-Western Balkans summit will take place before the EU leaders’ meeting to discuss efforts to revive the EU enlargement process. The new Slovenian government continues to attach great importance to the bloc’s enlargement to the region.

The EU summit will focus on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the EU’s response to it.

The granting of EU candidate status to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova is also expected to be discussed next week. The EU Commission is expected to give its opinion on this as early as this Friday.

“Slovenia supports a clear European perspective for Ukraine, but in this process we need to preserve the sensitivity of the EU enlargement process itself and the membership perspective of Western Balkan countries,” Slovenian Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said in Ljubljana during a recent visit by deputy Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament Olena Kondratiuk.

Recently, Slovenia’s stance on the war in Ukraine has been the subject of an intense debate with two different calls addressed to the government.

The first, issued by a group of nearly 20 academics and politicians, including former presidents, urged a rethink on the stance that would help lead to serious talks between Russia and Ukraine. They all said there was no doubt that the attack on Ukraine was a war crime, with some also expressing understanding of Russia’s stance that NATO’s eastward expansion needed to be stopped.

In a separate call issued yesterday, 50 public figures, including former ministers, deemed the first call to be in favour of “Munich-format talks where the affected country waits for the decision to be made by self-styled superpowers”, and urged Slovenia to strongly oppose this.

They said peace in Ukraine could be achieved only through decisive support for Ukraine’s defence, but also noted that the West’s attitude towards Russia had not always been appropriate and respectful to the Russian public or people.

Responding to the first call, Golob said that Slovenia’s stance on the war in Ukraine will be shaped by the parliamentary Foreign Committee.

Fajon meanwhile said that in light of both calls, she intends to set up a strategic council in the coming days to discuss the matter, including with the authors of the appeals. She noted that the previous government had been sending military aid to Ukraine, but Slovenia’s efforts will be now directed primarily towards providing development and humanitarian aid.

Golob has set himself the objective of establishing the Slovenian position on the war in Ukraine before his departure for next week’s EU summit, and he intends to obtain as much relevant information as possible in meetings with the heads of the Commission and the Council, which he will then present to parliament.

The prime minister is also expected to discuss energy and the fight against climate change in Brussels.

Golob’s visit will also serve as an opportunity to forge ties between his Freedom Movement party and other liberal parties in the EU. On the sidelines of the visit, he will meet representatives of the Renew Europe political group in the European Parliament, the prime minister’s office told the STA.

They are likely to discuss a call by French President Emmanuel Macron for the formation of a new European centrist alliance, a proposal that was backed by Golob.